Attention Employers! Barry Whelan, CEO of Excel Recruitment, discusses why benefits are important in a retail industry that more and more is becoming a candidate’s market….

Each year we complete a comprehensive salary & benefits survey to benchmark roles in the industry and examine the competitiveness of retail to attract talent.

With unemployment at 7.1% in February, it seems pretty obvious, that when it comes to retail, it is a candidates market.

With this in mind, we have seen a real increase in the benefits offered to employees. How employees value these benefits is a matter for debate, but when you look at global players and what they offer, taking a leaf from their benefits book, may help a business become the employer that stands out without putting employee costs through the roof.

Glassdoor, the American job site identified the ‘top 20 work benefit’s’ according to how the company’s employees enjoying those benefits rated them. The company’s employees write a comment on the Glassdoor site and they analyse these comments to come up with the most popular list. Interestingly as a US survey, top of the list is paid maternity/Paternity leave and health insurance, two benefits that we often take for granted in the Irish employment market.

So what could we learn from Employees in the world’s largest economy?

The retail industry in Ireland has some pretty significant players and whilst it’s not filled with Facebooks and Googles, with the stereotypical view of skateboards and ping pong tables in offices or employees able to take unlimited vacation time, these are not the benefits that employee’s value. According to Glassdoor, these don’t feature at all.

It is more worthwhile looking at what may be exciting to employees, whilst possible and affordable to the company. It is these benefits that lead companies to become that employer brand of difference. Remember these are not a list of the wildest or most comprehensive benefits, just those that employees valued.

As you can imagine companies operating in the tech and finance space feature heavily, but we also have a smattering of retail/hospitality businesses.

The top employee perks for 2017 that Glassdoor USA rate best are-

IKEA. Paid Paternity for four months

Reebok. On-site gym with Cross fit classes.

Bain & Company. Bain & company Soccer tournament

Goldman Sachs. Health cover for gender reassignment surgery since 2008

Facebook. Free housing for Interns

Scripps Health. Free pet insurance

Starbucks. Full reimbursement for all workers taking an online BA Degree.

American Express. Parents are given access to a 24-hour lactation consultant, and mothers traveling for business can ship their breast milk home.

Eventbrite. The company offers workers a monthly $60 wellness allowance that can be used on anything from juice cleanses to a gym membership.

Wholefoods Market. 20% staff discount

Gap. Provides free access to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to corporate employees. Gap founders Doris and Donald Fisher worked closely with the museum to feature their prominent private collection.

Swiss RE. Insurance company Swiss Re’s “Own the Way You Work” program encourages employees to embrace flexibility with their schedules and work remotely.

Southwest. Southwest offers all employees and their dependents access to Clear Skies, an employee assistance program that provides confidential counselling, work/life services, and legal consultations.

Genentech. Genentech offers unique on-site amenities, including car washes, haircuts, childcare centre, mobile spa and dentist.

Timberland. Timberland employees can take up to 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer.

Microsoft. $800 towards Gym membership

Deloitte. Two paid Sabbaticals

Amazon. Parental Share. Either Parent can take paid leave if one does not receive paid leave from their employer.

USAA. A high level health care plan

In-N-Out. Free Lunch


We all know the success of our businesses depend on the people working in them. Retail will become more and more competitive for talent as the year progresses. Perhaps adding some progressive benefits will help retain the talent and attract more.